Most people have mistaken Christianity as another religion. In fact, it is not. Religion is a way of seeking for God. In Christianity God meets us where we are, and longs to have a relationship with us. Christianity was named after its founder Jesus Christ, who is God eternal and human. Before He was our Lord and Savior he was Creator of heaven and earth and the universe. He was with the Father (Yahweh) from His throne of old from everlasting (John 1:1-5, 10-14; Micah 5:2). Through history Christians have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Other religions on the other hand are man made with their own belief systems. They have even borrowed ideals from the Christian faith. No one has a patent on Christianity or Jesus Christ. Christ is the Lord of every kindred, tribe and nation who believes that He is the Messiah that will bring His Kingdom to the earth for eternity. Christianity has gotten a bad name ever since it’s beginnings in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. Even most recently, Christianity has been misunderstood about its beliefs and its true intentions. If a person speaks of the name of Jesus Christ in public it is illegal, but if some speaks of Islam or Allah no one says a word. Odd isn’t it? What other faith can claim God’s solution to a sick and dying world. Jesus came into the world to save mankind from the destruction of sin and bring true peace now and forever more. For all this He suffered on the cross and rose three days later from the tomb.
Jesus’ name in Hebrew means ‘Yeshua’ means Savior, or help of the Lord. In ancient Palestine his disciples called him the Messiah, or anointed of the Lord. The name of Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, which means anointed one. The teachings of Jesus unite people from many lands into a Spirit led revival that has spread over the world. Mohammed, the founder of Islam regarded Jesus as a great prophet and developed many of his ideas. Democratic beliefs in equality, responsibility and care for the weak owe much to Jesus’ lessons in brotherhood and love. The first five books of the New Testament tell all we know of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. These books are the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts. The word Gospel means ‘good news.’ Matthew and John were two of Jesus’ disciples. They followed him saw his works and worked with him during his last three and a half years of His life and ministry. The Acts tell what happened during the next thirty years. The epistles, or letters of Paul tells something of Jesus and his sayings are found in the book of Revelation and elsewhere. There are also non-Christian records of Christ and the times in which He lived are found in the writings of Flavius Josephus (b. c A.D. 37 wrote Antiquities of Jewish History account A.D. 68), Pliny the younger (wrote c. A.D. 112 in his Letters to historian Tacitus), Tacitus (wrote c. A.D. 117), and Suetonius (wrote c. A.D. 120).
The work of Christianity is by one work and one only. This work is the saving grace of Jesus Christ (John 10:10). It’s a free gift of salvation. You can’t work for it or earn it. It was debt paid in full that we could never pay. Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. Mary’s husband was Joseph a carpenter who lived in Nazareth. When the time came for Mary to be delivered, Joseph had to go the register for the census in his place of ancestry, which was in Bethlehem, the City of David (Micah 5:2). It was there Jesus was born (Luke 2). Jesus grew up in Nazareth. He was strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Jesus began to reveal the special mission of His life when He was about thirty years old. John the Baptist prepared the way for Him by preaching repentance and by baptizing those who accepted the message. Jesus went to John to be baptized. Afterwards the spirit led Jesus into the desert for 40 days. There He was tempted by the devil. Jesus began preaching about the Kingdom of God at Galilee. He chose Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee as His headquarters. Jesus’ disciples were Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Bartholomew (Nathanael), James the Less, Thaddeus (Jude), Matthew, Philip, Simon, Thomas, and Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him). Jesus carried out most of this ministry in Galilee. He also visited Samaria, Jerusalem, and areas north of Galilee. He announced the Kingdom of God and taught He had power to forgive sins. Many of His teachings spoken at this time were on the Sermon on the Mount given in Matthew 5, 6, 7. Many teachers (Pharisees) didn’t trust Jesus. They feared Him because He seemed to change accepted practices such as conduct on the Sabbath. His disciples believed in Him. Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16). Soon after Peter, James and John had a vision of Jesus in glory with Moses and Elijah.
There were 36 miracles Jesus performed. He did this to prove His authority to His disciples and attracted many believers. The first miracle was at a wedding feast at Cana. His host ran short of wine and Jesus turned water into wine. At Lake Gennesaret, Jesus had Simon Peter catch so many fish in a net that their boat almost sank. Jesus blessed 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, and divided there among 5,000 men, women and children so that everyone had enough to eat. Jesus once amazed His disciples by walking on the sea in a storm. Jesus healed the sick and the blind. Jesus brought His friend Lazarus back to life after Lazarus had been dead and buried four days. Jesus used His power to show the love and mercy of God.
The last few months of Jesus’ life led to the Passion, His suffering, for all mankind. Jesus had made many enemies in Jerusalem and He knew it would be dangerous to go there. He believed it was His duty to do so. He was determined to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and of forgiveness. Jesus knew His destiny that He come to earth to save all people by giving His own life. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for Passover week. He made a triumphal entry into the city on Palm Sunday. The next few days He taught in the Temple. The rest of the time he meditated and prayed in Bethany. On th night of the Passover Jesus attended the Last Supper with His 12 disciples in Jerusalem. During the supper Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. He promised He would see them again in the Kingdom of God. He gave them bread and wine known as the Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper. He said to them take eat, “This is my Body. This is my Blood.” Later that night, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the slope of the Mount of Olives just opposite the Temple. Jesus prayed in agony but submitted Himself to God’s will. Armed men came to arrest Jesus as He prayed. Judas Iscariot showed who He was by greeting him with a kiss on the cheek. He betrayed his Master for 30 pieces of silver. Judas later hanged himself (another account says his bowels spilled out). The men took Jesus to the high priest. Jesus was accused of sedition and blasphemy, claiming that He made Himself God. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ time did not approve of His claim that He was the Messiah, the promised deliverer of the Jews. They considered this action as blasphemy. The Romans authorities felt that Jesus’ claim to be King of the Jews amounted to treason. They feared that He meant to lead an uprising against Roman rule in Palestine. As a result Pontius Pilate, who governed Judea as a Roman province, tried him. They charged Him with treason against Rome for claiming to be King of the Jews. Pilate then sent Him to Herod Antipas. Herod mocked Jesus dressed Him in a kingly robe and sent Him back to Pilate. It was custom to release one prisoner during Passover season. Pilate took Jesus and a condemned murderer, Barabbas on the steps of his palace and told the crowd to choose which one to go free. The mob turned against Jesus and chose Barabbas. Jesus was then beaten and scourged by the Roman soldiers. The method of torture of the Romans was so brutal that many of their victims did not survive the violent flogging. Jesus was returned to Pilate to be sentenced to die on the cross. Christ’s journey from the pavement to Golgotha is the street called the Via Dolorosa.
Crucifixion was a common Roman form of execution usually for the lowest criminals. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus. They dressed Him in a red robe and put a crown of thorns on His head and a reed in His hand. Then they beat Him and spat on Him. They forced Him to carry His cross like a criminal. Because of His exhaustion they ordered Simon of Cyrene to take the cross and carry it part of the way. The Romans nailed Jesus to His cross outside the city, on a hill called Golgotha or Calvary. Pilate had an inscription written in Latin, Greek and Hebrew to be place above Jesus on the cross. The inscription read IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). They set the cross up between two thieves. Before Jesus died, He called out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). During His suffering He cried, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). After three hours, Jesus died. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took His body to a new tomb, which they sealed with a stone. The Gospel tells how Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning after the Sabbath. She found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. After that, Jesus appeared to her and to Simon Peter. Two disciples saw Him on the road to Emmaus. The Gospels say that the 11 faithful disciples met with Him first in Jerusalem and then in Galilee. He taught them during the next 40 days about the Kingdom of God. Then He ascended to heaven.
Jesus often explained His thoughts by means of parables, or stories that taught lessons about the Kingdom of God. These parables illustrated everyday life and exemplify a profound moral or spiritual truth. Many parables were told in order to make truth clearer, but there were times when Jesus used them for the reverse motive—to hide the truth from the spiritually blind and prideful (Matthew 13:10-13).
The Gospel mentions about 70 parables. If you like to read some of these parables, here they are listed and where to find them in the Bible.
The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), about your Father and getting to know Him.
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), loving your neighbor.
The Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50), Thanking my Savior.
The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), Forgive your brother.
The Tower and the King (Luke 14:25-35), Finding my Master.
The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21), Accumulating my treasure.
The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-8), Assuring my future.
The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), determining your destiny.
The Midnight Caller (Luke 11:5-13) Asking your Father in prayer.
The Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8), Reaching God’s ear. This is the necessity of persistent prayer. Always pray. Never give up!
The Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14), Seeing myself by humbling yourself.
The Vineyard Laborers (Matt. 20:1-16; Isaiah 5:1-7), getting your dues.
The Sower and the Seed (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23; Mark 4:4-8; Luke 8:5-8) Know the Word of God. There will be a sowing of the gospel throughout the world.
The Wheat and the Tares (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), gathering of the righteous and the final judgment of the wicked children of Satan.
The One Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7), the Lord is our shepherd. Not one sparrow falls that He doesn’t see.
The Majestic Mustard Seed (Matt. 13:31-32), a little faith can move a mountain. There will be an outward growth of Christianity.
The Ten Lepers Cleansed (Luke 17:11-19), be thankful for what you receive.
The Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32), obeying God’s calling.
The Marriage Feast of the King’s Son (Matt. 22:1-14) The judgment on Israel and within the Kingdom.
The Wise and the Foolish Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), be prepared don’t be caught unaware.
The House Built on Rock (Matt. 7:24-27), building your life foundation on the Rock, Jesus Christ.
Sheep and Goats (Matt. 25:32-36), judgment of the just and the unjust.
The Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:45, 46), The Kingdom of God. God will gather to Himself a special people.
Talents (Matt. 25:14-21), using your talents what God has entrusted you with.
Lost Money (Luke 15:8-10), The Lord seeks those who are lost.
Net and Fishes (Matt. 13:47-49), catching the lost for the Lord.
The Fig Tree (Matt. 24:32-35), Restoring Israel in the last days.
Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44), The Kingdom of God. God will gather to Himself a special people.
The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32;Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19), The Kingdom of God.
The Leaven (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21), The Kingdom of God. There will be a permeation of the gospel into all areas of life.
The Drag Net (Matthew 13:47-50), The Kingdom of God. God will end the age in judgment.
The Blade, The Ear, and the Full Corn (Mark 4:26-29), The Kingdom of God.
The Pounds (Luke 19:11-27), your service and rewards.
The Unprofitable Servants (Luke 17:7-10), your works will be rewarded.
The Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8), What prayer can do. Just A.S.K. Jesus he shall answer-Ask, it shall be given; seek, you shall find; knock, it shall be opened to you.
The Lowest Seat at the Feast (Luke 14:7-11), God exalts the humble.
The Unjust Steward (Luke 16:19), Greed.
The Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21), Greed of Worldly Wealth.
The Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24), Store up your treasure in heaven.
The Faithful and Unfaithful Servants (Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48), watching for Christ’s return.
The Watchful Porter (Mark 13:34-37), watching for Christ’s return.
The Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-44; Matthew 22:1-7; Matthew 23:37, 38-24:2; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 19:11-27; 20:9-18; 21:20-24
), judgment and the coming Kingdom of God. The Jewish leaders that killed Jesus on the cross, God will destroy those wicked men miserably. The kingdom of God was taken from them and given to a nation (generation) bearing the fruits of it. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls will grind him to powder. This signifies the withdrawal of the offer of the covenanted kingdom to Israel and its postponement to the future.
The Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9), judgment and the coming Kingdom of God.
The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35), judgment and the coming Kingdom of God.
Jesus believed that His father was preparing a new Kingdom on the earth. In it, all human beings would live as children of God. Jesus spoke of this new era as the Kingdom of God, and said that He was God’s Son to announce and bring in the Kingdom. Jesus fought sin, particularly hypocrisy and cruelty to the weak. But He did not despise sinful people. He was willing to heal and forgive even before people said they were sorry. Jesus believed that God’s power was greater than sin. He taught that repentance and faith in Him could save men. Jesus offered His followers rules to live by. He taught people to love God and their neighbors with all their hearts and minds. He stressed that each person should treat others as he wished others to treat him. This is known as the GOLDEN RULE. People in general regard Jesus as a great teacher or prophet. Born again Christians on the other hand know deep within their hearts that He is the only begotten Son of God. Christians accept the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity as one of Jesus’ major teachings. This doctrine states that there are three Divine Person-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-united as One. As the Son, Jesus is equal with the Father. He has absolute authority for the teachings and absolute power to forgive sins and give eternal life. Jesus spoke of Himself as the Son of Man and the Son of God. Son of Man expressed His complete human nature, but it also meant to His followers that in the future He would come to judge the world. Son of God expressed His Divine nature in the unity of the Father (Yahweh).
The spread of Christianity began with the Resurrection of Jesus that convinced the disciples that Jesus was the heavenly Lord and the Son of God, as well as the Messiah on earth. After the death of Jesus, His followers scattered in fear. However, they soon reassembled. One after another, beginning on the first morning of the first fruits (after the Passover), reported that they had met Jesus alive. This rising from the dead is called the Resurrection and forms the basic doctrine of the Christian faith. Jesus remained on earth for 40 days after His resurrection; he spoke on the Kingdom of God and instructed His disciples to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and then ascended to Heaven. Two angels appeared to all who were present to see the Lord gone into the sky and said that the same Jesus as they see Him go will return again in like manner. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven Peter and all the disciples were all together in one accord and suddenly a mighty rushing wind came into him and tongues of fire sat upon them and they began to speak in other tongues. This was the beginning of the Christian church in Jerusalem. Peter and the others converted hundreds of Jews to the new faith. These early Christians, Jews and Gentiles, often met in the Temple and in synagogues in Palestine. Christianity soon spread as far as Damascus and Antioch. After Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was converted, he brought Christ’s teachings to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. For many years, Christianity was considered a part of Judaism. Roman authorities feared revolutions and began to persecute the Christians. The emperor Nero started the first great persecution in Rome in A.D. 64. But the Christian faith continued to spread.
In the beginning Christianity received a new incentive at Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when the disciples reported a strange and powerful inspiration like a rushing mighty wind. They said the Holy Spirit had entered into them. They spoke many languages. Some Christians believe the church began at the time. The first believers in Christ were Jews by birth and training, and, at first, they were considered a sect of Judaism. But gradually they came to think of themselves as belonging to an independent faith. The followers of Christ first received the name Christians at Antioch, Syria, where one of the first Christian communities outside of Palestine grew up. The early church spread rapidly due to the work of St. Paul and other apostles. The Romans persecutes the Christians for many years. But Emperor Constantine granted them freedom of religion through the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the late A.D. 300’s. Missionaries carried the Christian faith throughout the world.
In instructing and preaching, church leaders used the writings of early theologians and writers called ‘Church Fathers.’ They included St. Ignatius, St. Basil, and St. Jerome who wrote the Latin Vulgate from Bethlehem. The church also taught the Old Testament and used early church writings, especially those that became books of the New Testament. Those include the “Epistles” (letters) of St. Paul, which helped unify the scattered Christian communities. The Middle Age church strongly affected political and intellectual life during medieval times. It developed great economic and political power, and held much territory. This expansion led to constant struggles between the church and temporal rulers. Christianity bound together almost all of Europe in a single faith. When the Moslems invaded the Holy Land, European nations united to fight in the Crusades. The church also preserved learning during the Dark Ages through its monasteries. Monasticism began to develop as early as the A.D. 300’s. But monasteries did not become an important force until the early 1200’s, when the Dominican and Franciscan orders were founded in Europe. Monks were often the only educated people. They wrote chronicles and kept libraries of handwritten manuscripts.
Even in the early years of the church, heresies (beliefs opposed to official doctrine) developed. The more important heresies include Arianism, Nestorianism, the Iconoclastic heresy and the Albigensian heresy. Christianity remained practically one great community for almost a thousand years. In the 800’s a schism (division) began to separate the church at Rome and the church at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). In 1054, rivalries between two groups resulted in a final separation between Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics. The Eastern churches are generally called the Eastern Orthodox churches. Another schism, the Great Schism of the West, began in the late 1300’s. This schism led to rival popes, and seriously divided the church for almost forty years. In the 1500’s, large groups of Christians, who came to be called Protestants, broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. The movement called the “Protestant Reformation” was a protest over religious matters and against the worldly power of the church. Protestants have since divided into many sects and denominations. Roman Catholics began the “Counter Reformation” to reunite the church. The three great divisions of Christianity today are the Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. In the 1800’s some Christian groups began what is called the ecumenical movement, to seek ways to unite Protestant and Orthodox groups have founded such organizations as the World Council of Churches. Today, Christian groups often combine to fight common enemies, such as totalitarianism.
Throughout the centuries Christianity has suffered abuse by evil men, but has been revered and loved by many believers and non-believers. True Christians have risk their lives in bringing the Gospel of Christ to hostile countries. It is the love of Christ that surpasses all understanding. The more the church is persecuted the stronger the church becomes. Foxes Book of Martyrs gives an actual account of those who refused to give up their faith and gave their lives for Gospel from the beginning of Christ to the courageous saints of the 1500’s. Throughout the ages faithful believers sought after Christ’s true Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—the only true Gospel. Through persecution upon death they risked keeping this message alive passing it onto future generations. The pilgrims that first brought the true Gospel to the soon to be United States of America laid down the foundation of our present day government from the Geneva Bible. Jesus came to earth to bring this kingdom and not a religion. Jesus didn’t claim to be a teacher or prophet. He claimed to be King—the Messiah, the Anointed One. He didn’t come to work miracles but to put an end to the way of life man was living and proclaim the coming Kingdom of God. Jesus proclaimed he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who has brought redemption by way of the Cross—and His Resurrection. By His sacrifice He brought man the good news that we can enter into the Kingdom as God intended for it to be from the beginning of time. Jesus had finally once and for all reinstated the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. From Luke 4:43, Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.” Not so far in the distant future Christ is coming to receive unto Him those who loved Him—and Him alone. When the hour has been fulfilled Christ will come with His saints to reclaim the earth that rightfully belongs to God the Father and His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Those that endured to the end will reign with Him forever and ever.
Reference Scriptures: Luke 4:43; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 3:1-2, 4:17, 10:5-7; Exodus 19:5-6; Acts 28:31; Rom. 14:17; Psalm 103, 145; Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44, 7:13-15, 18, 27-28; I Cor. 4:20, 6:9-10, 15:50.
©2006, Teresa Carr. Almost Midnight Communications & Mega Grafx Studio.
Related articles by Zemanta
- The All to Human Jesus (dc-agape.com)
- Glenn Beckwatch: Jesus the Conqueror (slog.thestranger.com)
- Faithful with the Gospel (anointedplace.wordpress.com)
- Yes, Someone's Painting The Last Supper in a Backbreaker End Zone [Jesus Christ] (kotaku.com)
- Understanding gospels (slideshare.net)
- Jesus the Benefactor 1 (beliefnet.com)
- Tea Party Jesus: The Words Of Conservatives In The Mouth Of Christ [Holy Shit] (jezebel.com)
- Christian or disciple of Jesus Christ? (schansblog.blogspot.com)
- 210 jesus part 1 wh (slideshare.net)
- The lyrics of Woody Guthrie's song, 'Jesus Christ' (the socialist?) (daddyhogwash.com)
- Bible Study - Mk. 1 1-4.wmv (slideshare.net)